There’s nothing current about the Datsuns, the New Zealand band that, by many accounts, stole this year’s South By Southwest conference with a career-making set of its not-so updated heavy-metal bombast. That seems to be the way the band likes it, though: On its self-titled V2 debut and in this soldout L.A. tour closer, the Datsuns blast through the kind of generic rock heard at lunchtime on classic-rock stations nationwide.
Now that metal music has become more associated with rap-rock like Linkin Park and Tool’s intricate, algebraic arrangements, it makes sense that a band would want to take the genre back to the genre’s early, simpler, more musically excessive days. Unlike most roots-metal bands (Queens of the Stone Age come to mind) the Datsuns isn’t interested in replicating the envelope-pushing of Led Zeppelin; rather, it imitates second-generation riffers like Free, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple.
That means every song follows the same formula: foot-stomping riff to start, huge tom-tom beat to lead in, full-on cock-rock until the inevitably wailing guitar solo, an outro that includes shouting the song’s one-line chorus. As entertaining as that can be, the Datsuns brings nothing even vaguely new to it. The band’s major fault is that there’s no sense of irony in its attack. Though it’s heartening to see a band play with this much energy, it’s disappointing that the music the Datsuns is making is so aggressively derivative.